The presidential campaign has been a backward-looking conversation. Both candidates have focused on the past and the demonstrated failures of their opponents.
President Barack Obama's camp reminds Americans that Republican Mitt Romney was an active and successful participant in the Bush-era policies that widened the disparity between the ultra-wealthy and the vast majority of Americans.
Romney countered by pointing to Obama's inability to accomplish much of anything in four years. President Obama's greatest achievement was getting elected. He used his initial momentum to get the flawed health care reform legislation passed. Since, his administration has been engaged in a zero-sum game with Republicans in Congress.
We get it. Enough.
Both aspirants need to change the tone and the direction of the conversation.
Voters need to hear a vision for the future.
Obama must explain why his second term in office would be more successful than his first.
Romney needs to demonstrate why Republicans have a better strategy for reviving the economy than tax cuts for the wealthy and a return to the relaxed regulatory climate that fueled the financial collapse and helped drive the widening gap in economic inequality.
Unless Tropical Storm Isaac changes plans, the Republican Party's national convention begins in earnest today in Tampa, Fla.
Republican Party Chaiman Reince Priebus said the convention narrative will center on the notion that "all Americans deserve a better future and that this president ... didn't keep the promises he made in 2008."
Americans would be better served if Republicans focused more on mapping out the path for that better future and devoted less time and energy to rehashing the well-worn gridlock of Obama's first term.
Romney would show leadership by shifting the dialogue to solutions. We know the problems. We live with them.
Obama will have the same opportunity next week when Democrats hold their convention in North Carolina.
People want solutions and America deserves a leader capable of articulating a recovery plan.
It need not be all unicorns and rainbows. Voters deserve realistic plans for a responsible future. What can citizens expect? How fair will it be? What role do we play? How will we know it is working?
The candidates who would have us believe they can lead the greatest nation on earth ought to be able to express convincing reasons to believe that they are up to the job.